“President Obama, pictured here during the investiture ceremony of Attorney General Loretta Lynch, has made modest actions to reform mass incarceration, but he could be using his Presidential pardon power more aggressively. The orderly mind of Barack Obama appears to recoil at the vulgar world of pardons. The President is a consummate rationalist, a believer in systems and order. Pardons, in contrast, rely exclusively on the whim of the grantor. This Presidential power is descended from the concept known in Great Britain as the royal prerogative of mercy—three words that seem almost guaranteed to offend this President, singularly or especially aligned together.
“But President Obama is starting to come around on pardons, or at least on commutations.”